3 & 4 March 2015: Organ Scholarships Open Day
1 September 2015: Application deadline
Most Colleges have two Organ Scholars (a Junior and a Senior) in residence at any one time. In all Colleges, the Organ Scholars’ duties are centred around providing music in the College chapel, and Organ Scholars are usually expected to commit themselves to general music-making in the College as well. In some Colleges, chapel duties include acting as an Assistant Organist to a full-time professional Director of Music - accompanying the choir in regular services, concerts, and professional tours and engagements - while the Director of Music does most of the conducting of the choir, and all of the administration. In other Colleges, duties are shared between a part-time professional Director of Music and the two Organ Scholars, with playing, conducting, and administrative duties distributed equally amongst the three, or sometimes with the two Organ Scholars doing the bulk of the work, closely overseen by the Director of Music. A few other Colleges have no Director of Music at all, and the Organ Scholars are entirely responsible for the recruitment, training, conducting, accompanying, and administration of their chapel choirs (usually in consultation with a Dean or Chaplain).
Obviously, different skills are required for the various types of Organ Scholarship, and there is a significant difference in the time commitment required as well: for example, there are seven services per week to be accompanied by the King’s and St John’s Organ Scholars, and only one service per week to be prepared for and conducted by the Fitzwilliam Organ Scholar. The roles, duties, and perks of the holder of the Organ Scholarship at each of the participating Colleges are outlined in a separate booklet available to download above or from the Co-ordinator of the Inter-Collegiate Organ Scholarship Scheme. Think carefully about your skills (organ-playing, conducting, administrative), and about your aspirations, as you draw up your preference list: there is a wealth of opportunities on offer here, and you will want to take full advantage of those that are particularly suited to your expertise. Once you have chosen the type of Organ Scholarship you are interested in, it is advisable to list as many Colleges in your preferences as you can, in order to maximise your chances of gaining a scholarship.
In all Colleges, the Organ Scholar receives a small financial award each year (£450 per year). In most Colleges the Organ Scholar is also given a subsidy towards organ lessons, and a piano in his/her room. Other perks, including subsidised meals and choir tours, are determined by the individual Colleges.
All Organ Scholars are also automatically members of the inter-collegiate Organ Scholars’ Forum (OSF). The Forum organises regular master-classes in playing and choral conducting, as well as discussion sessions with professional organists from cathedrals and other positions. More information is available at the Cambridge Organ Scholars’ Forum.